Hunting and Gathering in the Information Age

The July Project: Number 30

Yeah, I know it’s not July any more. The month ended in a flurry of activity during which I was too busy to complete any posts, so my first job for August is to wrap up July. Bear with me!

Great Rift Valley

A few years ago, I started thinking of my daily walk as a crude analog to the wandering of our African savannah ancestors in pursuit of game and other food stuffs. They probably spent several hours every day chasing after or rooting around for their next meal, and the one after that, and the one after that. There are three grocery stores within a half a mile of where I pitch my tent, so I don’t have to wander in search of food. But evolution optimized my body and my mind for this movement; walking makes me alert and curious, ready to chase after whatever prey appears on the horizon.

Here in the Information Age, the object of my foraging is ideas. I make my living by collecting, arranging, curating, packaging, explaining, and selling ideas. I need fresh ones every day, and I often capture them while I’m hunting and gathering at the park. While I was taking the 50/50 writing workshop a couple of years ago, I discovered that if I read the day’s prompt before heading out for my evening walk, I’d often come home with a story or essay ready to write. During the present month-long blogging project, I spent many walks turning over post ideas in my head, then came home to write them out.

If my primitive metaphor isn’t enough to make you feel like moving, then take a look at a few headlines I scavenged: Aerobic Exercise Grows Brain Cells; Exercise Grows New Brain Cells; Mental Benefits of Walking; Stronger, Faster, Smarter. We’ve always known that working out was good for the body, but there’s a lot of new scientific evidence pointing toward the benefits of exercise for the brain.

Do you use your brain? Do you want to keep it fit until you’re done using it? Do your 21st-century lifestyle and career require you to trade in ideas? Get your body moving, and your brain will get stronger. And don’t worry—the Information Age will still be here when you get back to the computer.

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